Yolimar Rivera Vázquez, Food Equity Manager, speaks with Cameron Green, co-owner and co-operator of Willow Brook Organics. Photo credit: Roland Dahwen
The Ag of the Middle Acceleration program was a two-year, cohort-based business development program that provided formal instruction from experts in business structure, finance, taxation, accounting, credit, market development, food justice and more. Designed to fit the demands of the producers, trainings and one-on-one technical assistance sessions were scheduled between December and March so producers could focus on their businesses during the busy growing season.
Our central thesis in the development of this program was that these mid-sized producers—commonly referred to as the “Agriculture of the Middle”—would be well-suited to serve growing demand for local products from farm to school and farm to hospital programs, foster local economic development, and lead on environmental stewardship. We also endeavored to equip these producers to foster anti-racism thinking in the food system and engage in food justice activities in their communities.
In 2022, the team primarily responsible for coordinating the Accelerator paused the program to reflect on and evaluate its impact against broader organizational goals. After grappling with complex questions regarding program impact and implementation, who was benefiting, and how the team determined to sunset the Accelerator.
Learn more about the impact of the program through the Ag of the Middle Accelerator Program Evaluation Executive Summary
Food Equity Coordinator Yolimar Rivera Vázquez talks with Ari de Leña of Kamayan Farm about her work supporting the development of a food justice curriculum for the AOTM program. Yolimar also talks with Cameron Green of Willow Brook Farm about her involvement in an Anti-Racism Learning group co-created by AOTM participants and Ecotrust AOTM staff and Pablo Silva and Maura Vásquez of Silva Family Farm about their experience participating in the AOTM program.
A map of the Ag of the Middle Accelerator participants across our region
The 2019-20 AOTM Accelerator cohort gathered at an offsite with Ecotrust staff in Washington. Photo credit: Kimber Anderson
As consolidation and industrialization of food production continues, we identified that mid-sized, independent, regional producers could be vital to democratizing and diversifying food production, rebuilding soil health and improving water quality, and building both economic and social capital in agricultural communities.
In 2015, we embarked on a planning project to help define goals, strategies, and interventions for rebuilding the Agriculture of the Middle in our region.
We arrived at two primary conclusions:
Following this period of research, we launched the Accelerator in 2017, aiming to build long-term survivability and wealth for small and mid-sized regional producers. After developing a strong business management foundation, participants were connected with retail and institutional food buyers, enabling processing and distribution infrastructure, as well as lenders and investors who can support growth.
Since its launch in 2017, the Accelerator supported the development of 65 farmers, ranchers, and fishers from northern California, Oregon, Washington, and Alaska.
Ecotrust worked with a variety of consultants to implement trainings in the accelerator program. Partners and supporters include:
Ari De Leña (2021)
Carman Ranch (2019)
Cattail Creek Lamb (2017-2019)
Charlie Sparks- University of Alaska (2021)
Craft 3 (2017-2019)
Davis Wright Tremaine (2017-2022)
Grady Britton (2018)
Grizzlie’s Brand (2019)
Iroquois Valley Farmland REIT (2019)
Karen Guth Consulting (2017-2022)
Local Ocean (2019)
Lummi Island Wild (2019)
Oregon Department of Agriculture (2019)
Nancy’s Yogurt (2019)
National Resource Conservation Service (2019)
New Seasons Market (2018)
Niche Meat Processors Assistant Network (2019)
Northwest Farm Credit Services (2017-2022)
Orca Design Group (2021-2022)
Oregon Manufacturing Extension Partnership (2019)
Oregon Tilth (2019- 2020)
Poppy Davis Consulting (2017-2022)
Red Duck Foods (2019)
Stephen Hohenrider (2019)
Steward Capital (2019)
United States Department of Agriculture (2017-2022)
Winona Dorris (2021-2022)
Ecotrust Project Team & Services
It’s one of the most valuable educational experiences I’ve ever had, and I feel like I’m getting an MBA in Ag Business, and being given mentors whose missions are to rebuild our regional food systems, starting with helping farmers, ranchers, and fishermen thrive while also rebuilding the infrastructure and systems that bring food from producers to families.
CASSAD FAMILY FARMS, MADRAS, OREGON
This directory is intended to help farming, ranching, and fishing businesses find a qualified bookkeeper or Certified Public Accountant (CPA) and accomplish your business and personal financial goals.
PROGRAM UPDATE | A new video explores changes made to the Ag of the Middle Accelerator program to center racial equity
INTERVIEW | Our Ag of the Middle Program Manager, Maia hardy, interviews rancher and Accelerator participant, Jared Gartner
December 11, 2020 | Refocus on equity in the food system led to growth and new strategies to support regional producers
November 7, 2019 | Farmers, fishers, ranchers, and food producers poised for impact make up the group
November 16, 2018 | Farmers, fishers, ranchers, and food producers poised for impact make up the group
September 18, 2018 | Northwest producers who seek to scale urged to apply by Oct. 5
December 6, 2017 | First cohort of farmers, ranchers, and fishermen to gather Winter 2018